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Trump, Cruz Battle for Indiana Votes; Obama's Legacy Fighting Terrorism, Killing Osama bin Laden; Syrian Truce "Hanging by a Threat"; Chaos Inside Baghdad's Green Zone after ISIS-Claimed Bombings; U.S. Cruise Ship Makes Historical Voyage to Cuba. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired May 2, 2016 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: They're going to do whatever they can to prevent Trump from reaching the 1,237 number you need to get the nomination.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. I'll go on. I think Carly Fiorina to have some game in California and get delegates there but if he loses Indiana, it's all over. And Ted Cruz said that would be the case. He put it all on the line in Indiana. It's a conservative state. It seems to favor him more in terms of the demographic of the electorate. And the reality is that if it's a big loss for Cruz, ad even if it's a decent loss for Cruz, it's very hard to stop Trump, mathematically, we know. But then you have states like Nebraska that can now go for Trump where it favored Cruz and then polling well in California. I think it's basically done.
There's another piece of this, too. The more Republicans I talk to who are, even if they're holding their nose a bit, even they think it's high risk, they also think going with Trump is potentially high reward. There's a warming going on within the GOP to Trump.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And the irony here for Cruz, of course, is that this should have been a state he would do well in, which is why it's throwing everything out because a large share of evangelical voters, a large share of better educated voters, it's a very conservative voter base. Remember, they threw out Dick Luger in the U.S. Senate for a Tea Party candidate.
BLITZER: A moderate Republican.
BORGER: So I think that this should be a state that could actually work for Cruz.
BLITZER: And it's what he wanted, Cruz, one on one because Kasich, for all practical purposes, in Indiana, has dropped out and he has not gone there to campaign.
GREGORY: And the reality is that Cruz has also said he's going to make Indiana strong, an ideological pitch there, most socially conservative voters there. And looks like Wisconsin, won, of course, and gave this Stop Trump movement some juice. But even there, you know, you have a lot of evangelical voters who voted for Trump until now. The play is to say, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, they're one in the same. Look at the exchange a few minutes ago saying to the voters, the Trump voters, Donald is not even going to follow through on putting up a wall and cracking down on illegal immigration. It's trying to prove he's a liberal, a phony, a fraud. That's the best play here for Cruz in a state like that.
BORGER: -- they'll try it.
BLITZER: Certainly have.
Guys, thank you very much.
We'll have an exciting day, I assume, tomorrow.
Gloria and David, good to have you with us.
A reminder, we'll be covering the Indiana primary all day tomorrow on CNN. Please join us for our coverage.
Up next, President Obama's legacy in the war on terror. Our own Peter Bergen spoke to the president of the United States about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. So where is al Qaeda as a threat today?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:36:55] BLITZER: It was five years ago to the day, or almost the hour, that Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. That successful operation is likely to remain one of the enduring legacies of President Obama's time in the White House, and in a CNN exclusive airing later tonight, President Obama and members of his inner circle speak with CNN's national security analyst and the author, Peter Bergen, about the raid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After the discussions with the principals, this was clear to me this was going to be our best chance to get bin Laden. That if, in fact, we did not take the action that he might slip away and it might be years before he re- surfaced. I had confidence that we could get our guys back. We knew that it was going to cause some significant blowback within Pakistan, and that if it wasn't bin Laden, probably the cost would outweigh the benefits and we would lose face internationally because there was probably going to be a lot of difficulty keeping it secret once the operation started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Peter Bergen is joining us now.
Peter, you wrote the book on the manhunt for bin Laden and now, five years later, you sat down with President Obama and some of his key advisors. Did you learn anything new? PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the first thing
we learned new from the president is that he was contemplating ordering this raid quite a lot earlier than we thought. He was leaning in that direction. We also spent considerable time interviewing Admiral McCraven, the architect of the raid, the head of the Joint Special Command, his longest in-depth interview. And also the president kind of walked us through his decision-making process in the various places he made it. This iconic photograph is actually in the small office off the Situation Room. The decision-making process largely took place in the Situation Room but then all moved in here because they could see a video feed of the raid going down. And so the president kind of walked us through what happened that day in the locations that he was as the raid happened.
BLITZER: Did the Pakistanis, and when I say Pakistanis, I mean the Pakistani leaders and the Pakistani government, know bin Laden was living in their country all those years? Because as you know, that's been a huge question out there.
BERGEN: Yes. And of course, you know, bin Laden, as you know, Wolf, was living in a compound not far from Pakistan's military academy. People said, surely they must have known. Most of the people we spoke to in this program including the president said there's no evidence the Pakistanis knew. But interestingly, secretary of state -- then- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and now Democratic candidate feels they must have known. She didn't necessarily sort of provide any evidence of that. But it is sort of suspicious that this is an area where a lot of Pakistani military officers live and retire to. And certainly, you know, it's one of the questions that people have when they think about this operation.
[13:40:11] BLITZER: As you know, ISIS is now considered the major terror threat against the United States. But al Qaeda Central, they are still in business, Ayman al Zawahri. He was the number two to bin Laden. The fear is they wait a long time to undertake a massive explosive terror operation. Al Qaeda Central, do they still have the capability to do another 9/11-kind of attack?
BERGEN: Wolf, I think that's highly improbable. Some of the affiliates of al Qaeda in Yemen and Syria and North Africa, certainly, they had some capacity. But a 9/11-style attack on the United States by any group I think is almost out of the question. Even a Paris- style attack. We talked to -- where 130 people killed and we talked to a number of people, including the president and his senior national security advisors. Clearly, they're concerned about the possibility but the situation in Europe is different in terms of the number of European recruits that have gone, compared to the American recruits that have gone to ISIS for training.
BLITZER: Peter Bergen, thank you very much. Thanks for the excellent work you're doing as well.
BERGEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: You can watch Peter's interview with President Obama. It's exclusive. And other key figures behind the raid that killed bin Laden. That airs tonight, a special edition of "A.C. 360," 8:00 p.m. eastern, only here on CNN.
Coming up, the truce in Syria now hanging by a thread. What the U.S. is doing to try to piece the so-called cease-fire back together, and the alarming consequences on the ground if those efforts fail.
Plus, a chaotic scene in Baghdad right now as protesters storm the Green Zone ransacking government offices. Why they pulled back and what they're promising to do next. A real crisis in Baghdad unfolding. Details coming up.
[13:45:50] BLITZER: World leaders now scrambling to try to save that cease-fire in Syria. Right now, the Secretary of State John Kerry is in Geneva working with other world leaders trying to restore peace in areas where it's fallen apart.
Secretary Kerry acknowledged the challenges at this morning's talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: But it is a fact that in the last weeks, the cessation of hostilities has been put to test. And it has frayed in certain areas and it has fallen completely in a few areas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our senior national correspondent, Frederik Pleitgen, is joining us from Moscow.
Fred, Secretary Kerry has been working with Russians in particular. What are they trying to get accomplished today?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The big thing is to try to reestablish the cessation of violence or ceasefire in the entire country of Syria. The big problem right now is Aleppo, where you see that massive spike in violence over the past weeks. Some 250 people killed on both sides. We have rebel forces shelling government areas and a massive aerial campaign by Bashar al Assad's forces bombing a lot of places, and the U.S. said probably also that hospital last week, killing 50 people.
Now the U.S. says that it expects the Russians to be constructive in this whole process and also lean on the Assad regime to stop its aerial bombardments. The Russians for their part said last week that they don't want to lean on the Syrians to stop that aerial bombardment, however, when Sunday rolled around, they did say they are in negotiations to try to get some sort of truce going in the Aleppo area. Today, there was a phone call between Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Secretary of State Kerry. Lavrov is not on hand in Geneva. But apparently the two of them decided on new steps to try to get the peace process forward and also called on all sides to abide by what they call a regime of calm, which is a set of cease-fires, accounts for the Damascus area, the Latakia area, but not for Aleppo, and that's something where Secretary of State Kerry says something needs to happen very quickly. He says progress is being made, Wolf, but he also acknowledges there is still a long way to go.
BLITZER: The stakes are clearly enormous. Awful, awful. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed over these past few years and millions have been made homeless, internally and externally as well. So the stakes are really enormous. As bad as it is, it could get a whole lot worse.
Frederik Pleitgen in Moscow. Thank you very much.
Meanwhile ISIS is now claiming responsibility for a car bomb in Baghdad that killed at least 16 people and injured 43 others. The bomb went off along a highway being used by Shiite pilgrims walking on foot.
This weekend, authorities in Iraq were also confronted by Shiite protesters who broke through the fortified so-called Green Zone in Baghdad. They were there protesting government corruption.
Jomana Karadsheh is joining. She's following the story from nearby in Amman, Jordan.
Jomana, the protesters left the Green Zone at least for now. First of all, what got them to leave?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, the majority of these protesters are supporters of Shia Cleric Mutqa al Sadr (ph). It was a statement that came from his office on Sunday evening saying the protesters are withdrawing for now. The main reason they gave was out of respect for the Shia pilgrimage taking place in Baghdad this week. But as you said, it's just more now. They said they will be returning.
Another thing they were trying to give politicians a chance to meet their demands. Their main demand has been for parliament to vote on a new government to be presented by Prime Minister Abadi, a so-called governor of technocrats, something the prime minister has been trying to do for weeks now, but because of the infighting in parliament between two various political groups, there has been political paralysis in parliament, and the prime minster has failed to do so. But I think more than anything, Wolf, it was message from Mutqa al Sadr (ph) that he is still a serious force to be reckoned with in that country and he still possesses that ability to mobilize the masses.
[13:50:11] BLITZER: You know, the other day we spoke to the State Department spokesman who acknowledged that the situation in Baghdad is awful right now. The Vice President Biden was just there and spent a few hours, couldn't spend the night there or announce his visit there. Similarly, John Kerry, when he was there couldn't announce he was going for a few hours. Ash Carter, the defense secretary. How bad is the situation inside Baghdad? Forget about Mosul and other areas in Iraq, but in Baghdad right now.
KARADSHEH: Well, Wolf, the violence there does eastbound and flow as we have seen in recent months. The security situation did improve for some time but now it seems that ISIS is stepping up its attacks. If you look at just the past three days, we have had a number of bombings taking place in Baghdad but also in the south of the country. This is usually a calmer part of the country. The saw attacks claimed by ISIS.
The security situation right now, Wolf, they have really stepped up security. They have increased security presence in the capitol ahead of the pilgrimage that reaches its peak on Tuesday to try to secure the pilgrims, heading most of them on foot, usually a soft target for groups like ISIS. But as we have seen today, despite the security measures, increased security, ISIS has an ability to carry out attacks in the capital, deadly attacks. At least 16 people killed as we have seen -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Awful situation in Baghdad right now. Indeed, throughout Iraq.
Thanks very much, Jomana, for that report.
Coming up, for the first time in nearly 40 years a cruise ship is docked at the port of Havana in Cuba. These are live pictures. This is a U.S. cruise ship. First time this has happened in decades.
[13:56:20] BLITZER: America Kenneth Bae is speaking out after North Korea released him. He was the longest-held U.S. citizen in the country since the Korean War. He was leading a tour of North Korea back in 2012 when authorities arrested him and eventually convicted him for committing, quote, "hostile acts against the country."
Here's how he described the experience to Chris Cuomo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH BAE, RELEASED FROM NORTH KOREAN PRISON: A prosecutor assigned to my case last year of imprisonment. Came to me almost every week and say no one remember you. You are forgotten by your government. You're not going home any time soon. You'll be here 15 years. You'll be 60 before you go home. I'm grateful for people trying to get me home. Unreal to see I'm sitting in the studio talking to you. This has been just 735 days North Korea was long enough but I'm thankful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: One of the people Bae thanked for release was the former NBA basketball star, Dennis Rodman, who once called Kim Jong-Un "a friend for life." Bae says Rodman brought more attention to his case and for that he's grateful.
About 700 passengers set sail from Miami and cruised into history books today. The first U.S. cruise ship to travel to Cuba in nearly 40 years docked at Havana less than three hours ago. The cruise manager called the trip, quote, "the beginning of new era." It comes less than a year after the U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic ties.
Our correspondent, Patrick Oppmann, is joining us live from Havana.
Patrick, what was it like when the U.S. cruise ship arrived? Set the scene for us.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I have never seen like it, Wolf. Cruise ships are more and more of a regular occurrence here and they're almost full of Europeans, Canadians, never Americans until today. When we saw that cruise ship arrive already along the seawall, there were Cubans lining up very, very excited. Wanted to take photos, wave American flags. And then has Americans came off in waves, you can hear Cubans just below us in the port of Havana, clapping, welcoming them, hugging them. There was a lot of excitement over this. And this is a country where, of course, it's state controlled media. And there was no mention of this cruise ship to arrive today. All the same, Cubans came out by the hundreds to welcome the Americans.
There was some controversy over this Carnival Cruise ship because initially Carnival said they wouldn't accept bookings from people born in Cuban. They would not be allowed to come. And that goes back to a provision of Cuban law that prevents Cubans from either leaving or entering the island aboard boats. Finally, Carnival bowing to pressure, said they would not sail until the Cuban government changed the policy, and that's what the government did. Really impressed everybody and surprised everybody that the Cuban government would make the concession to Carnival.
A lot of work to be done. You look at the port, Wolf. Not room for large cruise ship. This ship only held 700. Carnival has ships that accommodate thousands of people. They can't come here just yet because they don't have the infrastructure yet and it's going to take years, but today was an important first step -- Wolf?
BLITZER: I'm sure it was.
All right. Patrick Oppmann in Havana, thanks very much for your excellent work for us, as well.
That's it for me. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."
But the news continues right now, right here on CNN.